Speaking at the Economist’s energy summit this week, Mr Huhne said energy efficiency had the potential to offer real carbon-cutting gains for relatively little investment.

“Energy saving is the cheapest way of closing the gap between demand and supply, yet it is the Cinderella of the energy ball,” he said.

“To date we have heard too much talk and too little action.”

He compared not tackling energy efficiency in private homes to burning £50 notes outside our doors and said that the Government’s Green Deal would make it easier for householders to make improvements, particularly those living in fuel poverty or with low incomes.

“The Green Deal is a completely new and ambitious approach to home insulation. The aim is that every participating householder will save money by insulating their home,” he said.

“Energy companies and high street stores will help guide customers through a simplified process and pay for the work upfront. Householders will then pay back over time on their energy bills from the energy savings they make.”

He also suggested that energy companies and local authorities could team up to promote more efficient home refurb plans, leaning on economies of scale.

“Insulation measures are often cheaper if implemented a street at a time,” said Mr Huhne.

“And we are planning to strengthen the Government’s powers to target energy insulation measures on the highest priority cases.”

“There are currently up to 14 million homes in the UK which could benefit from insulation under the Green Deal. We are working on the package for each home, which could unlock tens of billions of spending in the coming years.

“All in all, this will send the right signal to the energy efficiency industry, providing investment confidence and job opportunities. Indeed, this green growth sector can provide a big fillip to the economic recovery.”

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie